Home Opinion and Features There’s nothing worse than an angry verse

There’s nothing worse than an angry verse


OPINION: Believe me, I am not a person steeped in verse; in fact I could not think of anything worse. I’ve never been keen on rhythm and rhyme; For there’s far better ways to spend my time!

Picture: Josef Juchem/Pixabay

NOBODY was more surprised than I was back in 2015 when a poem I had written was included in an international poetry anthology.

Look, I will be the first to admit that I am not a poet. Not by a long haul. In fact, I have only written one serious poem in my lifetime, and that’s the poem that was published in ‘For Rhino in a Shrinking World’.

Believe me, I am not a person steeped in verse; in fact I could not think of anything worse. I’ve never been keen on rhythm and rhyme; For there’s far better ways to spend my time!

However, this anthology edited by Harry Owen had a dedication inside the front cover. “For all those rhinos so cruelly slaughtered in the pursuit of human ignorance and greed and for Thandi, who survived”.

Some may remember Thandi the rhinoceros that was mutilated by poachers in 2012. I remember how angry I felt at the time. The time that someone challenged me to compose and enter a poem into the competition.

Not knowing too much about poetry, I wrote a poem, in blank verse, of a proud Yemeni youth who had been awarded with a Jambiya (an Arabic term for dagger with a short curved blade) as a symbol of his becoming a man.

Picture: Josef Juchem/Pixabay

I wrote about how an entire rhinoceros had to be slaughtered for this boy to have an ornament to show off to the people in his village.

It was an imaginary scenario, but as I wrote the poem, I found myself becoming more than a little angry as I thought about the scourge of rhino poaching.

This past few weeks, I found myself becoming angry again. Posters are being tied to lamp posts, young people are canvassing, flyers are finding their way into mailboxes, areas of the city are being cleaned up again.

Why? Because there are groups of people eager to impress voters ahead of upcoming elections. A friend said to me on Wednesday: “I am happy. At least our neighbourhood gets cleaned up once every four years.”

I thought about what she said, and then I wrote another poem. Please, don’t expect too much because, remember, poetry is not my forté.

The poem is called ‘Dear Liberator’

Dear Liberator, thank you for helping us break the iron grip of the oppressors. You came alongside us, fought with us and together we’ve prevailed.

Your efforts and support we truly appreciate.

Dear Liberator, we remember how you promised ‘a better life for all’ and how you pledged to reward those who supported you. We also remember how election after election, after election you said “this time it will be better”.

But ‘better’ has not come and it’s getting late.

Dear Liberator, we remember, and we know that you do too, how the oppressor warned us of what would happen if we dared defy them, and with purposeful brutality they carried out those promised threats.

What has happened to your promises to make things better?

During the struggle, dear Liberator, you were there with us as we chanted “An injury to one is an injury to all”. Today, the people that you were supposed to have liberated are injured.

Do you feel our pain? Are you injured too?

Dear Liberator, the oppressor used to rumble along the roads in their vehicles. With an iron hand they enforced their laws. They found people hiding in their homes and dragged them through the streets.

We are thankful that the oppressor’s vehicles do not rumble down our streets any longer. We are grateful that we are no longer dragged from our homes.

But, dear Liberator, today our liberated roads are impassable. Our streets are flowing with sewage and we hide in our homes from unrestrained criminals who – with no fear of the law – brazenly roam the streets.

We still feel like captives, we are still afraid.

Dear Liberator, you identified religion as a tool of the oppressor and so you threw it out of our schools; and along with it the values and morals that held our nation together. Now our children seem to have no moral compass, no compassion and sadly no hope.

Too many young people are lost. ‘Medicating’ with substances that are destroying them; medicating against a future without hope.

Do you realise that if we lose our youth, we lose our future?

Dear Liberator, why do you focus on changing the names of cities, provinces, airports and roads instead of pouring resources into improving them?

Do our Struggle heroes deserve to be associated with potholed roads, inept organisations, crumbling infrastructure and poor service delivery? Is that, dear Liberator, how you honour your heroes?

Were it possible to ask them if this pleases them, what would they answer?

Under the oppressor’s iron fist work was completed on schedule, buses and trains ran like clockwork, and our electricity grid was amongst the best on the continent. Our people were oppressed, but our children were being educated. They learned discipline and self-control.

And now? Our labour force is powerless, our transport system paralysed, our electrical grid is failing; and children spurn education and despise authority.

We are unwilling to work, unable to travel, and reluctant to learn.

Somewhere, in a dusty old document I read: “The rights of the people shall be the same, regardless of race, colour or sex” and “the aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their culture” and “teachers shall have all the rights of other citizens”.

Will this happen in our lifetime, or will it be served with pie, bye and bye?

Dear Liberator … is this the freedom we fought for? Is this the liberation you promised? Are we allowed to ask these questions? Are you aware that it’s very difficult to dispel ignorance if you retain arrogance?

Dear Liberator, forgive us for asking, but why does your liberation feel so much like oppression?

Picture: Lance Fredericks
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